New York’s new anti-pollution law is receiving serious backlash, even from its supporters. This week, Mayor Eric Adams released the guidelines that would be put into effect in Local Law 97, a new piece of climate legislation that is supposed to limit fossil fuel emissions from large buildings. But, high criticism was received after many opposed certain parts of the guidelines. One opposition came strongly towards one of the proposed rules; the law would allow buildings to apply for a two year, fee-free extension if they are unable to be in compliance with the new set of laws going into effect January 1st of 2024. Many climate activists and experts say that this gives the real estate industry a leniency and loophole to delay urgent climate reform. Meanwhile, another side believes that two years is not enough time to enact repairs and reforms in order to step into law compliance.

The law was first originally passed in 2019, but no further updates were completed until this new set of rules going into effect next year. In order to qualify for the extension, companies must show “good faith efforts” towards climate reform. Those wishing to extend, need to obtain a permit from the city after showing decarbonization and energy-saving plan outlines. The process to receive the permit may take longer and be more tedious than starting compliance. This requirement has been defined as too vague by opposers and supporters. The public is able to make comments on the new rules and Local Law 97 until October 24, then these rules will become a permanent law.

In all, buildings are responsible for about 70% of New York City’s GHG emissions, which are those that contribute to rising temperatures, global warming, and in turn abnormal consequences. The law specifically targets those buildings that are more than 25,000 square feet, which is estimated to be about 50,000 properties. As of right now, around 90% of these buildings are in compliance with the law going into the new year. The law’s second deadline: 2030 calls for a 40% cut in emissions, and the 2050 deadline has buildings at a zero emissions goal. Something that is going to be extremely difficult in a congested city such as NYC, but crucially necessary for the planet. Violators of these deadlines face high penalties, which were not disclosed just yet.

An opposing protest was held outside City Hall Sept 14, where Brooklyn Borough President, Antonio Reynoso stated that legislation such as this should be tightened and doubled down on, instead of weakened. Continuing to argue that these buildings and businesses have already had five years to start reform to achieve compliance. NYC is on stand-by for the definite outcome of this law, will there be amendments or reform? Or will it ultimately stay the same and have possible repercussions?